How Centralized Communications Can Expedite Patient Care

The following is a guest blog post by Jean Turgeon, VP & Chief Technologist, Digital Transformation & Industry Solutions at Avaya.

While technology has flourished, providing users with numerous ways to communicate, enterprises have rapidly deployed new systems to keep pace and stay relevant. Meanwhile the healthcare industry, bogged down by ever-changing regulations and policies, has always had trouble managing multiple channels of patient communication and confidential information. As a result, its financial losses have been tremendous. In fact, the current health system loses an average of $200 for every missed appointment or open time slot.  Through intelligent integration of emerging technology components as part of a next-gen platform, healthcare organizations can centralize their various communication methods to drive more efficient provider and patient outcomes.

With global healthcare spending projected to reach $8.7 trillion by 2020, organizations are looking beyond traditional care delivery models and utilizing virtual care solutions to improve quality, value, and costs. Innovative technologies including AI, biometrics and IoT technologies, when integrated into patient care procedures are projected to quicken with a high return of patient satisfaction and overall improvement of health. For example, such applications could include website portals that give patients the ability to view their medical record, make/cancel appointments, and manage bills all at the touch of a finger, or click of a mouse.

Personalize The Patient Experience

Not taking medications as prescribed results in unnecessary health care spending and lost productivity reaching $100 billion to $300 billion every year. Today’s innovative technologies enable healthcare contact centers, hospitals and clinics, to evolve towards a fully-paperless operation. Unified communications platforms allow patients to receive alerts straight from their healthcare provider through text, call, or e-mail, helping lower the risk of missed appointments and neglect/non-adherence to prescription medication and healthcare plan updates. This prevents further financial losses from missed appointments and vacant time slots, while staying in touch with patients through their preferred communication platform (SMS, call, e-mail) from the network-connected web portal.

In addition, biometrics can be used to verify a patient’s identity with voice print ID when the patient calls in if they have opted for such identification support. From there a contact center representative, with a high degree of confidence, can pull up their Electronic Health Record and personalize the conversation to quickly deliver solutions to any inquiry without the necessity for a long list of personal questions to validate their identity. A patient’s voice print with the help of speech analytics (AI) can also detect if an interpreter is needed and automatically re-route to interpretive services instantly. While a patient call is on-going and being recorded, the infusion of AI technologies can instantly transcribe so the information is added to the patients’ health record in real-time becoming readily available to both patient and care provider for future medical visits.

Centralized Communications Driving Value-Based Care

The integration of innovative technologies combined with sophisticated automation can now enable centralized experience to healthcare professionals by way of collaboration and access to patient information at accelerated speeds. This flexibility and accessibility gives doctors and nurses the opportunity to communicate more efficiently between various departments and ensure that the time taken for reporting and maintaining records is greatly reduced at the same time.  Physicians can then focus more on the detailed needs of their patients and seamlessly transfer cases to other departments, laboratories, or billing resources as needed. It also provides real-time collaboration among other components of the healthcare delivery process across a multitude of departments and specialty areas.

With a much more open, access of confidential patient information, these technologies must continue to meet HIPAA and other regulations that secure sensitive medication data. Luckily, the regulatory requirements that the current infrastructure lacks, can still all be met with these new innovations. Meaning, hospitals can maintain digital health records that are useful in generating comprehensive patient medical histories and updates to ever-changing medical policies and standards. With this, physicians can now provide faster, more thorough, and informed care to their patients to improve health outcomes.

Where Do We Go From Here?

A unified, omni-channel internal and external communication platform integrated with various applications such as EHR, team assignments, CRM, combined with advanced technologies – like IoT platforms, AI, biometrics, among others – not only creates a trust-based relationship among providers and patients, it also increases patient satisfaction and safety, and eliminates inefficiencies in communication that inflict billions of dollars in debt to healthcare systems every year. Gartner predicts that by 2023, U.S. emergency department visits will be reduced by 20 million due to enrollment of chronically ill patients in AI-enhanced virtual care. This translates to major cost savings, with research estimating that 71 cents of every U.S. dollar spent on healthcare goes to treating people with chronic conditions. The healthcare institutions that are able to adopt these technologies, and reap the benefits of centralized communications, will be the first to realize the improved patient care and experience, and a reduction in costs.